Mutawintji Gorge is spectacular for its towering rusty red rock cliffs and overhangs, its magnificent rock pool, cool and soothing on a hot outback day…
We took the time to wile away the hours at the base of the cliffs, and later climbing them…an oasis in the desert, a timeless place, inhabited by an ancient people.
Photo: Baz, The Landy
Dawn and the hour or so before the sun pierces the eastern horizon is a favourite time of day for me.
And when travelling in the Australian Outback I am often rewarded with a view like this one, captured at Welford National Park…
Crikey, tickle me pink, how good is this sunrise over in the Outback.
Photo by: Baz, The Landy (how can I tell? Janet and TomO aren’t early risers!)
Australia has many outback towns that are full of charm, old buildings, magnificent pubs or watering-holes, and of course, just as many characters to fill them.
There are also some hidden gems to be found, if you scratch the surface deep enough and spend the time to fossick around, talk to the locals who might be just willing to point you in the right direction.
And you can bet there is always some healthy and good natured banter at the coming together of the city and country folk, especially if it is over a cold beer.
Broken Hill, a frontier town on the far western border of New South Wales, is one place that will need little introduction to most Australian’s. A town built on the back of silver and the hard toil of the men who worked the mines, and the women who supported them. It is the original home of the Big Australian, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company, or BHP as it later became known, and the nearby area of Silverton was the site of the Mad Max Movies starring Mel Gibson…
It also has a great pub, The Silverton Hotel!
It was with great anticipation that we drove The Landy into town a couple of weeks ago as it was the staging post for our travels into Mutawintji National Park.
And speaking of characters, we were able to catch up with a local resident of The Hill, a man who oozed knowledge of the area and a passion for sharing it, over a cold beer of course!
Dave Beharre was aware of a love I have of Broken Hill and the Corner Country region. Contacting me ahead of our visit, Dave offered information on places that we might find of interest, knowledge collected from the many years spent as a tour guide operating out of Broken Hill.
TomO, an avid reader, was thrilled to be presented with some books on the area from Dave…
Such is the way of the people of Australia’s outback, a tough, no-nonsense people, embodied with a pioneering spirit and a heart of gold…
And talking about scratching the surface and finding a gem, we visited the Living Desert Reserve just outside of town and situated on a hill that provides majestic views over the harsh, but wonderfully beautiful countryside.
Country of the Wilyakkali People who traditionally occupied the lands around Broken Hill.
The Reserve is set on 2,400 hectares of land and has a number of walking trails that you can traverse. At its centre-piece, perched atop a hill, is a number of sculptures carved from sandstone rock, around 52 tonnes of it brought in from the MacCulloch Ranges, a range situated about 250 kilometres to the east of Broken Hill.
The sculptures were completed in 1993 by artists from around the world in collaboration with Australia’s first inhabitants, the aborigines.
The story of the bringing together of all these different people and cultures, sculpting by day and at night, dancing and singing by the glow of a warm fire under a sparkling outback sky, and in tongues native to their own lands, is one that portrays a spirit of human co-operation.
The sculptures include Nhatji – the Rainbow Serpent, Thomasina – the Water bird, the Bride, Motherhood, Moon Goddess, Tiwi Totems, and the Jaguar – Bajo El Sol Jaguar.
The latter, a creation of an Aztec Sculptor from Mexico.
Broken Hill is more than an Outback Town, it is a living beauty, touched by sunrises whose rays reach out to breathe life into the land, and of sunsets that redden the parched, dusty ground with a brilliance that is hard to define, but awe-inspiring as the sun slips below a far-off western horizon…
Above all else, “The Hill” is a town full of endearing people – they are the real gems that you will find there!
Photos: Baz, The Landy
Seemingly, our land down under is cursed with the world’s largest population of flies. They tickle your nostrils, gather on your back, shelter in your ears and heaven forbid, get swallowed with every breathe you take, well almost…
And here is the thing, where do they go at the end of each day, you know, the sun goes down and they disappear faster than Wally when it is his shout down at the local footy club.
It is like in an instant, the sun slips below the horizon and it is pure bliss, well at least for five minutes, which is usually the time it takes to go and find a light to put on. Strewth, flick the switch and some weird and wonderful bugs appear out of no-where…
It had me thinking on this trip, yes I did have a couple of beers, so the mind was fluid, but I mean, did the bugs clock-on when the flies clocked-off?
Or was it a case of the same horse, just different eyebrows, and in fact it was just the flies dressed up. Lets’ face it, they had the time, cause if I said it took me five minutes to get out a light, it was probably ten minutes by the time I finished my beer, had another, and then flicked the light, so they had time!
Janet has just asked me where I’m heading with this, which is just as well because I’m not really sure…
But anyway, you can either put up with the little blighters, wave your hand around your face from time to time, pretend you didn’t really swallow one or two, or you can grab a fly net and whack it over your head.
TomO and I have generally opted for the viewpoint that they are a source of protein, and casually ignore the fact they have probably spent the last hour or so sunning themselves on a cow patty, or you can go the Janet option and grab a veil.
I snapped this photo of Janet, with fly veil at the ready, whilst Out and About last week, and I’ve been fascinated by the look on her face – what was she thinking…?
So I invite you to put a caption on the photo…over to you!
We are not long back from the Australian Outback and planning is underway for a couple of trips next year, already!
We were travelling in “The Landy” our original Outback travelling machine, although we did take delivery of the new vehicle just before leaving for the big sky and red soil country…
Prior to leaving I was inviting you to send a design for a mural that will go on the side of the canopy of the new vehicle and I was also asking you to suggest some names for the new vehicle.
I’m pleased to say that after a few beers and wines around the camp-fire we have a winner. In fact, the winner was a clear stand-out, and was produced by Sassy who has a wonderful blog called Sasieology…
In her bio, Sassy writes that she has made a promise to visit at least one new place and try at least one new activity every year…
I’m yet to see Australia turn up on her blog, but perhaps she’ll visit wearing her new Akubra hat one day!
Strewth, not sure how we’ll find her a good feed out in the “beef” country we frequently visit though as she is a self-confessed plant-based vegetarian.
And hey, don’t you go misreading me here, nothing wrong with that…
if you’re a rabbit
But, do baked beans count? We love baked bean jaffles on our travels…
Whilst we have modified the original design that Sassy sketched, she fully captured the essence of what we were looking for, perfectly!
A mural that depicts a vehicle that will cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge in full view of the Sydney Opera House and the magnificent Sydney Harbour most days, but equally, be at home in the red ochre deserts of the Australian Outback.
That is the work this vehicle will be put to, much the same as “The Original Landy”.
Just a sec, Janet is asking have I sold “The Landy” in order to pay for the new one…
“Yes, working on it sweetie” 😉
Anyway, let’s not get bogged down in a small domestic issue here, so Sassy, we’ll be sending you…
- An original Akubra Outback Club Hat,
- A jar of our prized Australian vegemite,
- Two packets of Tim Tams (you’ll love these!), and
- A bottle of our famous Bundy Rum.
And that brings us to the determination of a winner for a name.
Despite receiving many suggestions, we could not agree on one, preferring to leave the new vehicle simply as “The Landy”.
We placed the name of all who participated into an Akubra Hat, yes mine, and pulled out a winner, Nancy, who has a blog titled My Year of Sweat.
I’m betting she’ll love those Tim Tams and with all the exercise she’s be doing, knocking off a couple of packets of our delicious Tim Tams won’t be a problem. And I’m betting the rum will go down well.
So please make direct contact so I can arrange to send you the following goodies…
- A jar of our prized Australian vegemite,
- Two packets of Tim Tams (you’ll love these!), and
- A bottle of our famous Bundy Rum
And don’t tell Janet, but after a couple of beers around the fire I thought what is another Akubra Outback Club Hat between bank balances…
After all the cost of this vehicle makes the United States National Debt look healthy…
So not only will I be sending you some of our favourite Aussie tucker, we’ll get you to size up for a hat as well…
Hey, keep an eye out for those big sky country photos, we took heaps!
And by the way, thanks to everyone for having a go, because for sure, that is the Aussie Way…
Cheers, Baz – The Landy
Being an avid reader of colloquial poetry I welcomed the opportunity to once again be out in the countryside that inspired the great Australian Poet, Henry Lawson…
For those not familiar, Henry Lawson was a poet, a writer of fiction, and many will argue, Australia’s greatest writer.
Earlier this year we packed ourselves into “The Landy” and headed to Grenfell, his birthplace in the Central West of New South Wales, to attend the Henry Lawson festival, as well as just getting Out and About – of course!
On our most recent trip to the outback we visited Toorale Station which was a vast sheep and cattle property before its purchase by the Federal Government in 2008 and development into a National Park in 2010.
The purchase of the property did have political overtones, and was done, in part, to release water that was used for cotton growing back to the river systems.
At the time it drew a mixed response, but that is a debate for others…
Toorale had at its centre, a magnificent homestead, with a glass ceiling ball-room, sprawling verandahs, wonderful gardens and hand-painted wall paper.
Standing at the gate, my mind’s eye could picture a by-gone area, of women in long-white dresses sipping tea from delicate porcelain china, shaded by the afternoon sun by one of the many trees in the manicured garden, while men toiled on the land..
Janet, with a sly grin, casually mentioned how things had changed whilst casting an eye towards TomO and I…
Set at the confluence of the Warrego and Darling Rivers it remains a place of cultural significance to Australia’s first people, specifically the traditional owners, the Kurnu-Baakandji / Paakantji People.
Ross Morris, a member of the Kurnu-Baakandji / Paakantji family, showed us around and was enthusiastic about the opportunities ahead for the park, especially the cultural centre, which is teaching their traditional language, heritage and beliefs to younger members of their community.
In fact, it is now a language module offered at the local school in the nearby town of Bourke…
Ross spoke fondly of the time his father and grandfather spent on Toorale, and of the original owner, Samuel McCaughey, later Sir Samuel.
And it was Ross’s proclamation that it is no longer Black and White, a nice pun I thought, when he explained that we all have a bond to Toorale, whether through traditional ownership, or the heritage created by earlier settlers to the region.
His attitude brought a smile to my parched lips, as I love learning about aboriginal culture and history, something TomO shares in common with me…
Ross’s viewpoint was also echoed by other first Australians’ we spent time with on this trip, on our visit to Mutawintji and Peery Lake.
Samuel McCaughey was by all accounts a big-hearted bachelor and built Toorale for his much admired niece, Louisa, but tragically corporate ownership of the property in more recent times saw it decay and it is currently very dilapidated and in need of substantial repairs.
Janet and I asked each other how could such a treasure be left to ruin in the elements, Ross shook his head…
But what of Henry Lawson I hear you ask?
Henry spent the later part of 1892 working as a roustabout on the property and it has even been suggested that he penned one of his poems “When the Ladies Come to the Shearing Shed” whilst working in the shearing shed on Toorale…
Perhaps he did, but I cannot say that was the case with any certainty, but nor does it matter, as the “Toorale Shearing Shed” is typical of shearing sheds all over this great country of ours…
TomO, Janet and I were presented with a great treat whilst admiring the shearing shed.
A lady who was travelling with us on this particular day, Janice, stood in front of the shed and recited, with great aplomb…
“When the Ladies Come to the Shearing Shed” – By Henry Lawson
‘THE LADIES are coming,’ the super says
To the shearers sweltering there,
And ‘the ladies’ means in the shearing shed:
‘Don’t cut ’em too bad. Don’t swear.’
The ghost of a pause in the shed’s rough heart,
And lower is bowed each head;
And nothing is heard, save a whispered word,
And the roar of the shearing-shed.
The tall, shy rouser has lost his wits,
And his limbs are all astray;
He leaves a fleece on the shearing-board,
And his broom in the shearer’s way.
There’s a curse in store for that jackaroo
As down by the wall he slants—
And the ringer bends with his legs askew
And wishes he’d ‘patched them pants.’
They are girls from the city. (Our hearts rebel
As we squint at their dainty feet.)
And they gush and say in a girly way
That ‘the dear little lambs’ are ‘sweet.’
And Bill, the ringer, who’d scorn the use
Of a childish word like ‘damn,’
Would give a pound that his tongue were loose
As he tackles a lively lamb.
Swift thoughts of homes in the coastal towns—
Or rivers and waving grass—
And a weight on our hearts that we cannot define
That comes as the ladies pass.
But the rouser ventures a nervous dig
In the ribs of the next to him;
And Barcoo says to his pen-mate: ‘Twig
‘The style of the last un, Jim.’
Jim Moonlight gives her a careless glance—
Then he catches his breath with pain—
His strong hand shakes and the sunlights dance
As he bends to his work again.
But he’s well disguised in a bristling beard,
Bronzed skin, and his shearer’s dress;
And whatever Jim Moonlight hoped or feared
Were hard for his mates to guess.
Jim Moonlight, wiping his broad, white brow,
Explains, with a doleful smile:
‘A stitch in the side,’ and ‘he’s all right now’—
But he leans on the beam awhile,
And gazes out in the blazing noon
On the clearing, brown and bare—
She has come and gone, like a breath of June,
In December’s heat and glare.
The bushmen are big rough boys at the best,
With hearts of a larger growth;
But they hide those hearts with a brutal jest,
And the pain with a reckless oath.
Though the Bills and Jims of the bush-bard sing
Of their life loves, lost or dead,
The love of a girl is a sacred thing
Not voiced in a shearing-shed.
(© Henry Lawson)
If you are travelling in this part of the world, be sure to give Ross a call, he can be found at the National Parks Office in Bourke…
And remember, if all else fails, remain out of control and see what develops!
Photos: Baz, The Landy
Crikey, how would you love to this wake up to this view each day?
Outback Australia, you just got to love it, hey!
We are currently travelling in the Outback, exploring a lot of aboriginal rock art, engravings, and paintings…
And in between, enjoying a yarn, and a couple of ale’s around the camp-fire…
Strewth, roll me over and tickle me pink, I don’t reckon it gets any better than this…
Photo: Baz, The Landy
Have you ever wondered what it is like to stay in an underground motel, a room dug into a side of a hill?
Tonight our accommodation is the Underground Motel at White Cliffs in far-western New South Wales.
TomO and I have been frequent visitors over the years, stopping off on our way to and from the Outback, but seemingly, Janet has never been on those trips, so tonight is a first for her.
And what a welcome sight the reception was, standing tall on Smith’s Hill, about the only hill in sight for a hundred or so miles, well not quite, but the landscape is very flat and barren.
We have spent the past three days in Mutawinji National Park undertaking a number of walks through the magnificent gorges set in the rugged and fiery red Byngnano Range. And the wildlife was beautiful…
Mutawintji is the tribal area of the Makyankapa and Pandjikali people.
Aboriginal people have lived and hunted in this area for thousands of years and during our stay in the park we spent time with an aboriginal elder who took us to view some rock art and engravings of great significance to his people.
Mark shared the love of his land, his people, his culture with great passion and enthusiasm and we look forward to meeting up with him once again in the future, to share the experience of this great land together…
Strewth, you wouldn’t be dead for quid’s, hey!
Photos: Baz, The Landy
We left Sydney a couple of days ago in “The Landy” heading west for a tour of Mutawinji National Park and Outback New South Wales.
Our trip to Mutawinji National Park in far western New South Wales, and Trilby Station, situated on the Darling River, will give us some great exposure to Australian Outback Landscapes.
Mutwawinji NP is about 130-kilometres to the north of Broken Hill and situated in the Bynguano Range.
Apart from the natural beauty of the park, with its many gorges, rock-pools, and red gum lined creek beds, it is of great significance to aboriginal people who have been visiting the area for thousands of years to avail themselves of the food and water. The area has also been used for ceremonial reasons and still is to this day.
Throughout the park there are many examples of rock engravings, stencils and paintings. This is one of the park’s great attractions and we will endeavour to see as much as we can, which is usually done with the guidance of the Park Rangers.
After a few nights in the park we will head east towards White Cliffs, a town renowned for its opals and the many “characters” that come to mine the prized stones and we will stay in an underground motel, just for the experience!
After freshening up following a few days in the bush, we will leave for Trilby Station, a working sheep and cattle property on the banks of the famous inland river, the Darling River. A favourite of ours, we will camp by the Billabong and engross ourselves in very little, just taking in the atmosphere of the outback.
We’ll have a few days of relaxation before leaving Trilby and travelling via the small locality of Louth, making our way towards Narromine for our final night of the trip.
Of course, all trips come to an end, and as we make our way back to Sydney on our final day, passing through the towns of Orange and Bathurst, I’m sure there will be plenty of stories and experiences to recount from our couple of weeks “Out and About in The Landy”.
And be sure to keep an eye out for some pictures of our tours over the coming week, hopefully we can capture the beauty of our magnificent outback on camera…
Photos: Baz, The Landy
Sunset at Cullayamurra Waterhole, Outback Australia…
Photo: Baz, The Landy
“The Ruins” parched by an outback sun…
Diamantina National Park, Outback Australia.
Photo: Baz, The Landy
Regular visitors to my much rambling blog will know that apart from trying to climb mountains, and run around the bush with a back-pack, that we frequently get “Out and About” in a four-wheel drive vehicle.
A Landrover Defender that co-incidentally goes by the name of “The Landy”. A vehicle that you’ve got to love, even if it is too slow to keep worms in a tin.
Janet is suggesting you go and grab yourself a cocktail to sip on, after all it is approaching the cocktail hour, and she knows too well I can be Harry-have-a-chat, you know, the sort of bloke that can talk under wet cement with a mouthful of marbles.
Um, I see you made yourself two, good, it is nice to have company.
Strewth, you’re going to drink them both?
Anyway, where were we?
Oh, yes, and don’t we love “The Landy” as it gets Janet, TomO, and me “Out and About” in the Australian Outback, soaking up the big blue sky country.
Recently, around the camp fire with “Bluey and the Boys”, the conversation got around to the money we spend on our toys.
A self-confessed newbie to off-road travelling and touring posed the question…
“What should I buy and how should I equip my vehicle”…
Crikey, these types of questions are welcomed around the camp-fire as it means at least another couple of beers while answers are given and debated, and besides there is no such thing as a silly question.
Janet is hovering a bit and has just suggested silly questions are highly probable if it involves, four-wheel drive vehicles, beer and boy’s around a camp-fire.
But this question got me thinking that perhaps it is asked the wrong way around.
I thought, how much better our bank balance would be money one could save if the question was turned around to read…
“What equipment shouldn’t I buy?”
An often held view is that today’s modern four-wheel drive vehicle needs to be optioned up and fitted with all kinds of after-market gadgetry.
In reality, late model examples of the most the popular brands, including Toyota Land Cruisers, Nissan Patrols, and heaven forbid, Landrovers , yes I have two Defenders, are quite adequate straight out of the box, right off the showroom floor.
The vehicle after-market parts industry would have us believe that a five-inch lift, winch, diff-locks, a bull bar big enough to push over a small building, and an over-haul of the suspension system is required…
And that is just to get you down the front-driveway to the gate of your house!
But strewth, the reality is quite different, and a slightly different approach could have you banking cash to spend whilst on a trip, or something to put away for the next.
Whoops, Janet is still looking over my shoulder…
Yes I’m hearing you sweetie… or that new dress!
Mind you, after that big event you went in whilst in London recently, you remember shop till you drop, will mean “The Landy” won’t be getting any new gadgets for at least another week a long, long time.
Crikey, when it comes to vehicle modifications I reckon you’d be best to just go out and enjoy the country and “suck it and see” on any short-falls you might find.
So I tossed this little list of “things you can do without” into the discussion around the fire…
Bull bars, nice to have, but adds a lot of weight to the front-end almost guaranteeing you’ll need a suspension upgrade.
And yes, I know your uncle lives out at whoop, whoop and he hits a “kangaroo-a-week” and no doubting he needs one.
But I have never hit one in years of travelling the outback.
A Winch… no Bluey, I said winch, so watch your tongue and go and grab yourself another beer…
Well if you get a bull bar, a winch is a great accessory to adorn it.
But really, unless you actually “intend” to go into areas where it is almost guaranteed to be required, than save your money.
Many want to add it for insurance, just in case, and it usually dies from under-use.
A suspension upgrade – crikey, this can be a tricky one, if you have wasted spent money on the first two then you’ll probably need to chuck some money at this as well. Besides, your Toyota Prado will look great in traffic driving across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, head and shoulders above everything else.
But if you can drive with caution and approach obstacles carefully, and not like you’re in the Paris to Dakar rally, you might get away with the stock standard system that was fitted to the vehicle when you drove it out of the show room.
Communication radios – okay, if you like colourful language and you’re as lonely as a country dunny, it might be a useful addition to an already cluttered dashboard.
Otherwise, if your wife blushes at the thought of a four-letter word, or you have got three kids strapped in the back, then save your money, you can do without it.
If you keep a look out the front windscreen you’ll probably avoid most vehicles coming the other way, after all seeing is believing, or so they say!
Although, come to think of it, if you have got three kids in the back, it might make a change from the “are we there yet” whine.
Power and Engine upgrades – strewth, isn’t that the beauty of modern motor vehicle engines that use computer technology.
You can just plug a few leads in and spend lots of your hard earned cash tweaking something the vehicle manufacturer and its engineers’ spent tens of millions of dollars on ensuring was the best combination when they made it.
Sure, if you want to tow a caravan half-the-size of a Hollywood Mansion behind you, or you have a need to cover the breadth of Australia in record time, then I can see you might need it…
But hey, don’t get me wrong, there are people out there doing chip-upgrades and they need a retirement fund, so live in the knowledge you’ll be making it a more comfortable retirement for them.
A Fridge – hell, this is heading into dangerous territory, after all how do you keep
Janet’s wine TomO’s milk refrigerated without it?
Back in a ‘sec, Janet has just suggested that it would be best if I went to the fridge and get her a top up from that lovely bottle of Hunter Valley Chardonnay she has almost knocked off bought the other day.
Dual Battery System – well, if you need a fridge to keep things refrigerated then you’ll need a second battery to run it, and perhaps a couple of beers to get you over the bill when it comes in from the auto-electrician.
Roof Rack – have you ever lifted one of those things, they’re usually pretty heavy if you want a good one and another reason you’ll probably need a chip-upgrade and better suspension.
But if you can leave a few items at home, like three-quarters of the things that Janet tries to stuff in “The Landy” you think you’ll need, then you may be able to say no thanks to your local four-wheel drive warehouse, I’ll not be needing one.
Spot Lights – the bigger the better, after all if you’re going to spend money on those shiny things that go up front, you might as well get a pair that would spot a Spinifex Hoping Mouse at three miles.
But many of the people I see with them on the front of the vehicle are tucked up in bed at one-minute-past-sunset, which sort of makes them a bit redundant…
Um, the spotlights that is.
But hey, what better way to let someone into your wallet again.
Anyway, I hope you’re still around and not rolling around on the floor somewhere as I can see you finished off those two cocktails…
See, reading a long rambling post does have its merits.
So what makes me an expert anyway?
Yes, I heard you whispering!
A four-wheel drive named “The Landy” that is full of gadgets, and an empty bank account to go with it…
Hey, and good luck out there, wherever there is!
Come on, you can relate to this can’t you?
After all you don’t need a four-wheel drive to whip out that “Fantastic Plastic” and do some damage with that “Weapon of Mass Destruction”…
Photos: Baz, The Landy
How is this for a glorious winter’s day by the beach.
Strewth, you might just be left wondering is it really winter?
Janet, TomO, and I packed “The Landy” with some picnic goodies and headed down to the Royal National Park, just to the south of Sydney.
And we stopped by the spectacular Coalcliff Beach for a cup of tea, expertly brewed by the Queen of the tea pot, Janet.
What a great place for a cuppa, hey?
Photo: Baz, The Landy
The jet-setters, Janet and TomO arrived back home from London this morning and for sure it is about time we got something to smile about into our lives once again.
And you’ll be pleased to know that Janet stood at the top of the podium…
You remember – the big event. The dash to spend cash down The Stand, suitcases under one arm, credit card in the other, you know, shop till you drop.
Okay for sure, I did say give it your best shot Janet, you deserve a great win.
But let me tell you – she’s won the gold, hell, a world record…
And I know the little rooster, TomO, would have been cheering her on, but just how did she manage so much, in such a fast time?
Strewth, I’ve had to take a Bex and I’m now heading to the couch for a lie down after lugging all those suitcases from the baggage carousel to the car.
Um, welcome home, darling…and TomO,
And by the way, where’s my present, I did get one didn’t I?
Victorian High Country, Australia.
photo: Baz, The Landy
If you have ever been to one of those end of year sales at a large department store, that seemingly happen almost every other month, you will appreciate they are not for the faint-hearted.
Success depends on just how quickly you can get out of the “blocks” when the whistle blows.
The front doors opened by men of steely nerve, and where a slow start could well see you being trampled as the stampede gets into full swing.
You need to be a seasoned shopper to even contemplate attending…
And speaking of seasoned shoppers, many of you will know that Janet and TomO are currently visiting England, sunning themselves in the spectacularly beautiful Devon countryside.
The weather has been perfect for them, so I’m told!
But this is rest ahead of the main event when Janet lines up at the top of The Strand in the heart of London, empty suitcases in one hand, credit card in the other, and at least a hundred boutiques to work her way through…
A daunting prospect for any seasoned shopper, a grueling event by any standard and it all comes down to preparation and a great coach.
The lead-in time to this event was quick and afforded very little time to prepare so she engaged the best shopping coach in the world.
In Janet’s own words…
“I put the call into the Queen of Shop-till-you-drop, a pocket-rocket who wields a Black Amex Card with all the precision of a Jedi Master, and who lives to the motto if you can’t decide on which one to buy than simply buy the lot”.
Of course, Kimbalee “The Coach” has always shied from the limelight so I won’t mention her name, but in the lead-up to the departure of Qantas Flight QF1 to London, “The Coach” ran Janet through her paces.
There were the early morning starts, 11.45am down in Double
Pay Bay, an exclusive harbour-side suburb over-flowing with pretty boutiques in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs, followed up with lunch down by the Opera House on the world’s greatest harbour, Sydney Harbour.
Shopping is an endurance event and fuelling up is a key ingredient to a successful campaign and there are some divine restaurants dotting the harbour where one can sit back and relax the muscles, aching from the weight of all those boutique bags…
There was speed work to be done…
Standing atop the winners podium, which incidentally simply comes down to being “loaded to the brim” with dozens of shopping bags when the “closed for the day” sign is hung out, will all come down to just how fast Janet can get out the credit card, pay, and
sprint move on to the next boutique.
If you think the start of a triathlon is chaotic as entrants jostle for position than you will marvel at the performance of a seasoned shopper. High on adrenalin and with at least a couple of expresso’s under the belt it is best to stand well clear as the “open” for business sign is illuminated on the front door of the first boutique…
Of course, “The Coach” put Janet through her paces with a few sessions of “wait training” after all there are times that you’ll need to stand in line at a cash register.
The bane of all shoppers on a mission…training is key here!
For sure, Janet has had the best of the best work her through the rigors of training for the event.
And as she heads back to London from the English Countryside this week I wish her well as she faces the starters gun in the shadow of Big Ben, ticking away, a reminder that time, or lack of it, is the seasoned shopper’s worst enemy…
No doubting TomO will be jumping for joy and yelling words of encouragement for his mum from the side-walk as the hours pass by and the fatigue sets in…
And don’t worry, I have been doing some “weight training” of my own this past month. I’m sure all my strength will be called upon to lug those suitcases from the baggage carousel to the car when the jet setters arrive home…
Janet, sweetie, good luck with the event, I know you’ll do us proud, enjoy it and I’ll be cheering you on, you deserve a great win!
And remember those parting words that
Kimbalee “The Coach” gave you as the final boarding call was made…
“Shop till you drop and the credit card is exhausted… you can rest on the long flight home!”
Today marks the first day of TomO’s mid year break from school, and let me say it seems like only yesterday the school term had begun.
Crikey, why wasn’t school like that when I was a young whipper snipper?
Hell, hang-on I’m still a young whipper snipper, at heart…
Janet and TomO aren’t ones to waste a moment of living, so today they will jet-set out of Sydney, accompanying Janet’s mother, Clare, on a visit to her sister who lives in the wonderful Devon area in the south of England.
For those who visit regularly you may recall that Janet’s father, Archie, passed away about a month ago after a long and wonderful life and not too far short of his 100th year.
Archie always had a passion for travel and seemingly with all the travel TomO has done over the past twelve months it is becoming quite obvious there is only a “sheet of tissue paper” between Poppa Archie and grandson TomO!
It’ll only be a matter of time before TomO will turn up in a Pith Helmet, for sure!
Of course, as many will recall we had all planned to be in Nepal later this year for my climbing expedition, but as I am still recovering from my recent Achilles tendon operation we’ve put those plans aside for the moment.
After all the mountains aren’t going anywhere!
Usually, we travel as a family to experience this wonderful world together…
But now is the time for both of us to spend time with our families. Janet in support of her mother Clare, and me with my family.
It would almost seem a cruel twist of fate, but having just lost a great mate in Janet’s father, Archie, my father, Brian, has been admitted to palliative care in his hometown on the Redcliffe Peninsular, suffering from an illness that will take him from us shortly.
Mind you, he is a man of great faith and he is showing tremendous courage at this time. I said at the time of Archie’s passing that it was hard to be sad when we have so much to be happy about, to have shared our lives with them.
Life, you never know what it is going to dish out to you, but one thing for sure is all you can ever do is live the best way you can…and only one moment at a time.
We came across this little bloke today, an Echidna, whilst Out and About touring country New South Wales…
I tell you what, let’s just call him spike!
Crikey, nature, you’ve got to love it hey…
Photo: Baz – The Landy
With a long weekend in the offering and great weather, Janet, TomO, and I jumped into “The Landy” and headed into country New South Wales, the Riverina Area…
And we came across a quaint little town called Ariah Park, with a motto of Wowser, Bowsers, and Peppercorn Trees.
The main street is lined with old petrol bowsers and peppercorn trees, but we can’t vouch for wowsers as we didn’t see another soul!
And strewth, what a great old pub!
Out and About in “The Landy” hey – crikey you wouldn’t be dead for quids…
Photo: Baz – The Landy
Is there a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon than down at Bronte, eating fish and chips by the ocean…?
photo: Baz, The Landy
Janet, my partner, is a lover of Australian Wildflowers and spends countless hours in the Australian Bush, observing, photographing…
The Australian Outback, you’ve got to love it!
Photo: Janet O’Malley
Around the camp-fire, Outback Australia…
Photo: Baz, The Landy
Despite the sign-post this old truck won’t be going anywhere…
The Australian Outback, you’ve just got to love it!
photo: Baz, The Landy
One of Australia’s most recognisable icons, a Hills Hoist !
It doesn’t get much more Aussie than that…every backyard has one, even in the outback!
photo: Baz, The Landy
Broken Down – In the Australian Outback.
Trilby Station, by the banks of the Darling River…
photo: Baz, The Landy
Touring the harsh environment of the Australian Outback is best done in a robust vehicle designed for the job.
Mind you, in days long gone people travelled the Australian Outback in old Model T Fords…
Our vehicle is a Landrover Defender 130 Twin Cab manufactured in 1995, and completely rebuilt from scratch in 2006. Up until the time we purchased the vehicle it had been used as a farm vehicle in the wine growing region of the Hunter Valley just to the north of Sydney. We reconfigured it for long-range travel and it can cover a distance of around 1,800 kilometres without the need to refuel.
Strewth, that would be 1,100 miles…
We intentionally chose an older vehicle so we didn’t have to deal with a “computer failure” disabling the vehicle in the middle of no-where. A rare occurrence mind you, but it is a long walk from the middle of no-where in the Australian Outback!
It uses solar panels for power management and has a High-Frequency Radio for long-range communication that enables us to stay in contact even in the most remote parts of Australia.
And it can carry 100 litres of water in a specially designed stainless steel water tank.
Inside the canopy we carry an inflatable boat and outboard motor for touring the creeks and billabongs we come across in our travels, has a 60 litre fridge, and we carry a comprehensive range of spare parts, tools and tyre repair equipment.
After all, in the event of a break-down help can be hundred’s of kilometres away. We also carry a substantial medical kit.
And to enable it to cope with the harsh environment we travel in, it has specialist suspension.
The camper-trailer, a Track T-Van, is every bit as tough as the vehicle and was designed by a company that makes trailer equipment for the Australian army. It doesn’t come on all our trips, but crikey, we need to find a good reason not to take it, as it makes for a very comfortable night’s sleep.
Quite a change to a bivvy bag and sleeping bag on the side of an alpine mountain in the freezing cold!
Anyway, make sure you give us a wave if you see “The Landy” Out and About.
Landrovers, I love ‘em so much that I’ve got two (Janet rolls eyes 😉 )
Let your spirit soar, like a bird…!
Flying in formation with my son, TomO, over Wanaka, New Zealand…
photo: Baz, The Landy
This week marked the passing of another year in the history of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, it turned 81 years old.
It was officially opened on 19 March, 1932.
An icon around the world, in more recent times it has become a focal point for New Year celebrations as Sydney-siders herald in another year with the bridge festooned in colourful fireworks.
Of course it is more than that, it is a life-line to those travelling from the north of Sydney to the south and whilst many years ago the Sydney Harbour tunnel was built, taking vehicular traffic under the harbour, it still doesn’t match a trip over the Coat-Hangar.
And New Yorkers’ might be just left wondering where you had seen our bridge before. The design of the bridge was heavily influenced by the Hell Gate Bridge in New York.
I drive over the bridge each day on my way to work in Sydney’s central business district and I always take in the view it gives of the harbour and marvel at the engineering feat.
Of course, for those who are inclined, make sure you take the bridge climb if you ever visit Sydney – the views of Sydney Harbour are spectacular…
Crikey, you’ve just got to love Sydney, hey?
photos: Baz, The Landy
Almer Hut is situated high on top of the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.
The red building has been a welcome sight to many who have traversed this fantastic country.
At the time I passed through it was sitting just below the snow line and the area offered great views to the mountains and the Tasman Sea.
New Zealand, you’ve got to love it, an adventurer’s playground…
photo: Baz, The Landy
Far North-Queensland, my backyard
when I was growing up…
And strewth, not another soul in sight…
ps: I never grew up 😉
photo: Janet O’Malley
TomO has been travelling the outback with us since he was a little tacka.
And always smiling, never stop smiling, mate…!
It is not unusal to find date palms in the remote Australian Outback, particularly in the centre of Australia.
Often planted by Afghan Camel Traders.
The Australian Outback…If you can survive the flies, you’ll love it!
The Cooper Creek winds its way through the Australian Outback after the rains from Northern Australia swell the creeks and river systems and move slowly down into the wonderful area they call the “Channel Country” providing a haven for water birds and bringing life to the surrounding country…
TomO, Janet and I travelled in our inflatable boat to this remote spot, sat back and enjoyed the solitude that the Australian Outback brings, and not another soul in sight…!
And lucky for us, Janet rustled up one of those great dampers of hers in the camp oven for us to devour, how good is that…
photo: Baz, The Landy
It doesn’t matter where in the world you travel you will always find someone baking bread. And there is nothing better than eating freshly baked bread…
It could be a baguette in a back street bakery not too far from Avenue des Champs-Élysées, or a Grissini expertly baked in the shadows of the Colosseum, it could even be one of the many Indian flatbreads, a Naan maybe, baking in a tandoori oven, or even an Injera in Ethiopia.
In the Australian Outback where a never-ending blue sky meets the parched red soil it will be the drovers’ staple, a golden brown damper, kneaded and expertly worked before being baked in a camp oven, or maybe just directly over hot glowing coals…
A freshly cooked damper, still warm, is best eaten smothered in golden syrup, the residue running down your hands, waiting to be licked from your fingers…
Camp food… bonza mate!
If I ever get lost in the mountains please send a St Bernard to rescue me…
But if I ever manage to get lost here, could you just send another cocktail, one’s never enough as the sun sets over the South Pacific!
Ps: Don’t bother rescuing me!
photo: Baz, The Landy
One of my passions is travelling the Australian Outback, the rich red soil kissing a vast blue sky in the far off distance, in the never-never…
Rest assured the never-never is a real place and the term was often used to describe the vast uninhabited inland region of Australian. But in reality, Australia’s first people, Australian Aboriginals, inhabited much of this vast land, the never-never…
The term never-never has appeared in many poems, writings, there is even a novel, “We of the Never-Never”, authored by Aenas Gunn. The book is really an autobiographical account of her time on Elsey Cattle Station in Australia’s Northern Territory.
I’ve visited Cordillo Downs many times over the years and it is truly big-sky country out there. Standing in its shadows I try and picture in my mind’s eye the people who worked here, how they arrived, where they went.
For you see, Cordillo Downs is in the middle of no-where and there is something very appealing about that.
And you’ll be hard pressed to find a tree in the “gibber country”.
Stores were transported from a town approximately 600 kilometres to the south by Afghan Camel Trains and workers frequently rode bicycles across an arid desert landscape to seek work in the shearing shed.
Hey TomO, there’s an adventure for us, riding our mountain bikes up the Strezlecki Track to Cordillo Downs…
Outback Australia, truly full of surprises and if you aren’t carried away by the magnificent landscape, you’ll be carried away by the flies, that’s for sure!
Storm clouds over Welford National Park, near Jundah, far Western-Queensland…
The colours of the Australian Outback, spectacular!
With no fridges novel ways had to be found to keep the beer cold!
Outback Australia, it will give you a thirst!
Looking back at old photographs is like opening a time capsule, you just never know what you are going to find and usually there are one or two little gems to bring a smile to your face.
I was at Janet’s parents home recently, Clare and Archie who are 83 and 98 years of age, and over a cup of tea we were flicking through books of old photographs.
The themes varied from trips overseas, the children growing up, and of Archie’s childhood in India.
You could pick any photograph and Archie would narrate a rich account of when it was taken, and the story behind those who were in it.
And there were photographs of Clare’s childhood days, growing up in far western Queensland on the family’s sheep property and of her days at boarding school in Charters Towers, far North Queensland.
The conversation turned to our upcoming adventures and my journey to climb Cho Oyu, an 8,000 metre peak, which is close to where Archie grew up, and if all goes well, Mt Everest.
Over the years I have listened to the many stories of Archie’s trips to Darjeeling, situated in the foothills of the Himalaya’s and in later years of visits both he and Clare made back to Calcutta.
One story that always brings a good laugh is about a mountaineering expedition group who turned up at the offices of James Wright and Company, General Merchants, the family business in Calcutta. The suave and handsome couple heading the expedition were in a rather irate mood as they stepped out of the taxi, demanding to know why they had not been met at the ship upon their arrival.
Being general merchants, Archie and his father dealt in all kind of goods, and were the agent’s in India for the popular drink Ovaltine.
“These mountaineers were here to climb Mt Everest and they were going to drink Ovaltine all the way to the top, extolling its virtues to the world.”
It had all been arranged in England prior to their departure and there was surprise and indignation that they had not been afforded the courtesies expected upon their arrival. They even had a copy of the telegram from the Head of the company that made Ovaltine in England informing of their visit.
This was a gentlemanly age and young Archie arranged for the expedition to be put up at a first class hotel where they could rest after their long sea voyage and ahead of their attempt to climb Mt Everest.
And rest and avail themselves they did indeed…
Of course, there was to be no attempt on Mt Everest as the mountaineers were well practiced con people. After spending a number of nights in the luxury of the first class hotel, taking advantage of the young Fawthrop’s generous hospitality, they disappeared into the night, leaving Archie with an expensive hotel bill and the need to provide an account to his father of how he had been done by a slick group of con artists’.
But he could be forgiven, after all Ovaltine accompanied Sir Edmund Hilary on his ascent of Mt Everest with Tenzing Norgay in 1953 and the company went on to sponsor Chris Bonnington’s 1975 Everest expedition.
And speaking of Tenzing Norgay, as we continued our journey through the albums one particular photograph caught my attention, a black and white snapshot of Clare and Archie, with Tenzing Norgay standing beside them.
On a visit to Darjeeling, Archie and Clare met and spoke with Tenzing, a remarkable and quietly spoken man they said, whilst dining at the Darjeeling Club.
TomO was very excited at the discovery, a link to where we will travel this year when I attempt to climb three 6,000 metre peaks, Lobuche East, Island Peak, and Pokalde, all situated not too far from Mt Everest.
Was the Ovaltine story and the photograph a sign-post on our own journey, I thought.
A connection to the region brought about from Archie’s younger days? In the least, it will enrich the experience for us…
And as I climb in the Himalaya’s Archie’s Ovaltine story will be sure to put a smile on my face, warming me like a hot cup of Ovaltine on a bleak winter’s night…
Sunrise at Ourimperee Waterhole, Currawinya National Park, Outback Australia…
A beautiful part of the Australian Outback, not to be missed!
Alola village, remotely located deep in the steamy jungle of Papua New Guinea.
The only way in is to walk for a couple of days…
Janet and I lived in Papua New Guinea for three years, working and exploring…
A wonderful country, full of wonderful people and teeming with spectacular wildlife.
No ordinary moments, no ordinary people, no ordinary lives!
This is a wonderful place to visit, to sit and just listen to the sounds of the Australian bush…
Where the wildlife abounds and the flora is spectacular. We took this photograph in the Warrumbungles on one of our trips…
The Australian Bush, it speaks for itself…
January was such a whirlwind of fun, mountaineering in the Southern Alps of one of the best countries in the world, New Zealand.
Of course, it wasn’t all mountaineering and there was plenty of family time doing some crazy things together.
Now I do have this rather audacious plan to climb some of the world’s highest mountains, heaven forbid, Mt Everest does beckon, but of course even contemplating that is some time off just at the moment.
My next major expedition will be to Nepal in November of this year. It sounds so far away doesn’t it?
I have much preparation to do ahead of it and I suspect time will fly past very quickly. I need to increase my fitness with plenty of long-distance pack walking, as well as hone my climbing and rope handling skills; after all as they say practice makes us perfect.
And of course, climbing to altitudes in excess of 6,000 metres will require some new equipment, so plenty of gear reviews and shopping lie in the months ahead.
Shoosh, I might just not let on to Janet about that just yet!
But anyway, I’m starting to rabbit on a bit now, so I’ll get to my point…
Many people have asked about how the trip went and did I get to the summit of Mt Aspiring.
Unfortunately the answer was no. The weather conspired against us about halfway up and we decided to turn back, to continue on would have been dangerous…
But none-the-less, it was a successful climb.
It would be easy to think of it as a failure…but I had a great smile on my face!
Failure is a word I’ve never been comfortable with and I’m sure it doesn’t sit well with many others. But for many, not achieving a goal you’ve set out to achieve often leads to despair, feelings of not succeeding – of failure.
It can be deflating…
For me, not getting to the summit of Mt Aspiring was not a failure; in fact I found it a great learning experience. Turning back involved taking account of many factors; of course the most important was weather, which was pretty much a no-brainer as the wind was raging in excess of 100 kilometres per hour over the summit.
Assessing the situation, making the correct decision at the appropriate time, and of course acting on it was an important lesson in “human factors” especially as we stood on the mountain, exposed to the elements; to the increasing wind and sleet…
All too often it has been found that people have identified that a new course of action needs to be taken and whilst they’ve understood what it was they needed to do they’ve failed to implement the new plan until it was too late.
The experience highlighted the importance of being efficient and proficient whilst remaining safe, especially at a time when external factors were having an adverse affect on the undertaking.
A very important lesson, especially given my rather audacious plan of climbing high mountains!
So should we get rid of “failure” from our vocabulary?
No, I think it has a place.
After all, Janet did highlight to me the other day that I had failed to take out the garbage, and for sure it could count as a learning experience, but failure summed it up perfectly…
The garbage truck had just passed our home and wouldn’t be back for another week and those words “you failed a very simple task” are still ringing in my ears…
So next time you haven’t achieved your goal will you use the “F word?”
I know you won’t… Just think of it has a learning experience on your way to success…